Getting to know the Copac libraries

As part of the work we’ve been doing on the future of the Challenge Fund (watch this space!), I’ve been talking to some of the Challenge Fund libraries about their experiences with Copac, and the benefits they’ve felt from being part of the Copac community.

This has been a very welcome opportunity for me to actually have a chat to

A detail from the interior of Chetham's Library

A detail from the interior of Chetham's Library

some of the librarians. As with many people now, most of our communicating is done by email, which tends to be quite impersonal and business-focussed. Having the chance to chat to people on the phone makes for a more personal connection, and you can get a different sense of the person you’re dealing with.

Although I talked to most people by phone, we did manage a mini-Copac field-trip to Chetham’s Library, where my colleage Lisa Jeskins and I were given a tour and some fantastic coffee (both of which we enjoyed very much) followed by a very interesting discussion about a number of issues, including what kind of impact being part of Copac has had for Chetham’s library. Conversations with libraries have all started from the same list of questions, and then digressed in various directions. It has been very interesting to see the emphasis on different areas from different libraries: we’ve talked about subjects ranging from the quality of catalogue records and the importance of in-depth cataloguing; to specifics of the Copac interface; and potential future mash-ups.

With Chetham’s, we arrived at a discussion about mutual promotions/marketing. This has been a theme I have been discussing with all of the libraries, as we are reviewing our promotions strategy, and looking for new ways to promote Copac and our contributors. We have been discussing a number of possibilities, including that of having subject foci on the website – something along the lines of the Archives Hub’s Collection of the Month.

All of the libraries I’ve spoken to have expressed interest in/approval of/willingness to co-operate with this, and the staff at Chetham’s were particularly enthusiastic. They offered to photograph anything in the library we liked the look of, to give us some magnificent images to use. One of the possibilities that arose from this discussion was that of having links to digital images of items from the Copac record, and/or thumbnails of the item on the results screen, in the same manner as the Nielsen BookData cover images. This may have to wait until the new database (see this post of Ashley’s for what else the new database might hold ), but it’s a feature that we are very enthusiastic about pursuing with our contributors.

There will be more posts coming up about the conversations we’ve been having with the Copac libraries and the issues that have arisen from them. Sign up to our feed at http://copac.ac.uk/development-blog/feed to keep up-to-date.
If you’re a Copac library that we haven’t spoken to yet, or would like to talk to us about anything, get in touch in the comments, or email copac@manchester.ac.uk. We’re always glad to hear from you.

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